For fans in the Kansas City area, sports wins are inevitable. Let’s cherish them. – Update Kansas

The Kansas Reflector welcomes articles from writers who share our goal of broadening the conversation about how public policies affect the daily lives of people across our state. Eric Thomas directs the Kansas Scholastic Press Association and teaches visual journalism and photojournalism at the University of Kansas.

I sat on the couch Sunday night, cocktail in hand, watching Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes trot onto the field. Trailing the Los Angeles Chargers by four, Kansas City needed to drive 75 yards in the final 1:46 for a touchdown. A field goal wouldn’t be enough.

And yet there I was lying on the couch.

I didn’t walk around the room. I didn’t check the odds of a Chiefs win. Like many other fans of teams in the Kansas City area over the last decade, I was waiting for my team to win.

Regional team support for the last 10 years has been like the old video game Frogger – only without the icon. We’ve come a long way, from one team’s joy to another’s championship.

As the Royals tanked, Sporting Kansas City led their league. As Sporting faded, the Chiefs pounced. When the Chiefs lost in the playoffs, the Jayhawks won in March Madness. If you’re willing to abandon your fervent fandom of one down-and-out team for another on the rise, the Kansas City area is the place to be.

My 13 year old boy has never really known the darkness of life in the sports swamp. Freed on a day off from school in 2015, he boarded a bus to downtown Kansas City to watch the Royals’ World Series show.

Four years later, we watched the Chiefs board double-decker buses for their own celebration. Sporting KC offered us a chance to see two players who represented the United States at the World Cup. Kansas City professional sports have always offered him a bright local team.

He also trailed the Jayhawks men’s basketball team on their championship bracket this year. The University of Kansas’ streak of dominance in Big 12 basketball has bordered on the absurd during our last decade and even earlier. Big 12 basketball teams can win a regular season title, a conference tournament title, or both. The Jayhawks have won or shared the regular season title 20 times. Another 11 teams? Only 11 titles in total. In the conference tournament, a format that makes it much easier to fend off better teams through one bad record, the Jayhawks still won nearly half.

(And who would have thought the 2022 football Jayhawks would pull off this squeaky-clean turnaround of a season?)

It wasn’t always like that. The Royals and Chiefs have tested fans with long stretches of suffering. To call the futility surrounding the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 seasons simply “losing seasons” understates the hapless nature of those teams. Since 2002, Royals fans have endured six seasons of 100 or more losses.

It wasn’t always like that. The Royals and Chiefs have tested fans with long stretches of suffering. To call the futility surrounding the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 seasons simply “losing seasons” understates the hapless nature of those teams. Since 2002, Royals fans have endured six seasons of 100 or more losses.

Likewise, the Chiefs are claiming an era of sour football – especially compared to the current golden age. Recent teams have been hot as hell, winning a record six straight AFC West division titles. They are ready to win another one. Over the past seven seasons (not including this current one), the Chiefs have won 83 games.

Here’s your trivia question: How many seasons would it take to get 83 wins if you started counting in 1972? Answer: 14 — double the number during the Andy Reid era.

Think of the psychological drain of living in a city that lost so often. And consider how invincible we feel to always have a winner in the region.

It can certainly lead us to arrogance. Or, as I experienced Sunday when I watched Mahomes rally the Chiefs, it evokes a chilling confidence, a relaxed reassurance that we fans don’t have to worry. It will be fine. We believe we will win.

With less than two minutes to go, Mahomes threw one pass and then another to dissolve the Chargers defense. Landing tight end Travis Kelce felt less like surprising fan euphoria and more like deja vu. Like Lorenzo Cain making a circus catch in the outfield in 2015. Like opening the sports app on our phones to find Sporting KC advancing in their tournament. Like Bill Self grinning as he climbed the ladder to cut down the webs.

The danger of running like this is forgetting to enjoy it. Just ask the fans in Detroit with four major sports teams, most of whom have failed to post winning records much less make meaningful playoff runs.

Cincinnati, despite three Super Bowl appearances, does not have a single trophy. Add this to Cincinnati’s woes: the hapless Reds, who haven’t won their division in 10 years.

I’m asking you as fans. Put all your superstitions on to keep this streak going. Don’t wash lucky socks. Take the same route to the stadium every week. Eat the same pregame meal of sauerkraut and sausage.

But whatever you do, don’t close your eyes. This is too rare – and fun – to pass up.

Through its opinion section, the Kansas Reflector seeks to amplify the voices of those affected by public policy or excluded from the public debate. Find information here, including how to submit your own comment.

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